In late August 2014 I flew MH 30, the red eye from KL to Istanbul. Malaysian Airlines – commonly referred to as MAS Airlines or code MH – until recent events was one of Australia’s favourite airlines and I was curious to see how their service had weathered recent storms.
My friends and colleagues thought I was mad, but I figured lightning never strikes thrice.
MAS has certainly had its fair share of trouble of late. It’s almost as if someone has put a pox on the airline.
So it was with huge surprise that I flew on an almost full plane from KL to Istanbul recently. Clearly others were keen to express their solidarity and faith in the MAS brand.
I bought an economy ticket but MAS very kindly upgraded me to Business Class. This is my report:
I was seated in seat 1D. There are seven seats across in Business in a 2-3-2 configuration on the B777 with 33 seats in Business and 233 in Economy.
MAS Airlines seat configuration
Here is the MAS B777 200 seat configuration – with three in the middle and two each side.
The B777 200 has 35 angle-flat seats in Business (Golden Club) and 247 standard seats in economy. Seat pitch in Business is 62” (compared to 34” in economy), width is 18.5” compared to 17” in economy (which is why it felt a little cramped and not much different to economy as it’s barely any wider)
I was seated in the centre 3 in an aisle seat, next to a couple on my right. Business class was full.
The seats are all attached, just like in economy. You may see individual seats in videos on Youtube but those are first class. In business you are still attached to the person next to you.
The big advantage, as far as I could tell, over travelling economy was that the seat almost fully reclined.
The easy sleeper reclining seats with electronically adjustable leg rests had multiple recline positions and leg and back adjustment settings all controlled by a remote control panel. It felt a bit like sleeping in a recliner sofa.
Although these seats are technically flat-beds, they don’t feel like true flat-beds because the foot rests don’t elevate completely, leaving your feet at an angle.
The seats are a blue fabric inside a cream or ivory coloured surround frame that allows the seat to recline and stores your pillows.
I’m not a big fan of fabric as it holds smells and can’t be cleaned like leather or vinyl but that’s a personal thing and fabric seems to be used by most airlines pretty much across the board.
There was a 10.4” screen in the armrest, the type that you have to pull out and twist up and a fold out meal tray – just like I normally get on economy.
I had a very comfortable flight and slept most of the way – unlike when I travel in economy and have to watch movies the whole way because I can’t sleep.
So, full marks for that. I was really tired after a flight delay of 9.5 hrs in KL due to a faulty engine (they did accommodate us in a hotel and we found out later they’d flown another plane out from Europe).
I guess they didn’t want to take any chances and you can’t blame them given recent events. We were scheduled to take off at 12:30am and arrive in Istanbul at 06:00 am (local time) on the same day. However we ended up taking off at 10.00 am and arriving in Istanbul at 3.30pm.
MAS food and service quality
The food was not as good as I remember and not much better than economy to be honest, except that it was served on crockery with silver and a napkin.
The breakfast choice was Nasi Lemak or Omelette, orange drink, and a fruit plate; dinner was satays and either lamb shank or a fish stew. The shank was very tasty and I washed it down with a little wine.
The staff seemed slightly rattled and rushed off their feet but still pleasant and helpful.
I’m sure that first class is a whole different ball game with sleep pods and huge space but, quite frankly in business I don’t think it’s a huge improvement – just that the seat reclines, your legs don’t ache and you neck doesn’t get cricked.
Business Class B777
Here is an idea of what business class on the B777 is like, except that this is showing the 2-2-2 configuration on the newer A380s.
Interestingly MAS doesn’t rate on this list of the 10 top business classes (all of which appear to have full flat beds and individual compartments, neither of which MAS has (on this plane at least):
I did visit the new MAS business lounge at KL airport and that is very impressive indeed, with a noodle station, a separate café serving barista coffee, a bakery with a pastry and bread selection, a separate bar area looking out over the tarmac, plus the usual lounge seating area. It was huge, modern and stylish.
Karen Halabi was upgraded to Business Class courtesy of Malaysian Airlines